I Can't Breathe

I Can’t Breathe


hidden from history
so few mentions
black bodies hanging
those horrid lynchings

amerika’s fingers
ever pointed abroad
condemnation of other nations
its righteousness a fraud

what crimes more outrageous
what motives more insane
what offenses qualify more
as crimes inhumane

for decades thousands murdered
in public executions
crowds cheered children peered
men leered mass confusion

body parts chopped off
paraded kept as mementoes
fingers genitals
not a single law passed to prevent those

heinous acts against Blacks
in which officials joined
described as strange fruit
a term Billy Holliday coined

she was hounded
by the government for exposing it abroad
for daring to perform songs
that exposed the U.S. image as a fraud

the same motives lie behind
why there are still so few mentions
of these historic crimes
thousands of black lives stolen by lynchings

we pled for over a century
for anti lynching legislation
as thousands died officials denied
black folks told just be patient

and we were until occurred
a global uprising
in response to witnessing the
police lynching George Floyd died before their eyes and

with amerikas image on the line
only then did officials pretend
to denounce what for hundreds of years
they instigated and participated in

even during that protest summer
a number of Blacks died
public hangings which officials
dismissed as suicides

so not until 2022
and only because
of international exposure and resistence
did they finally pass anti lynching laws

and what of capital punishment
the injustice system’s racist intentions
black and brown selectively targeted
as legalized lynchings

whether by mob hysteria capital punishment
or police violence its all the same
public executions of black bodies
its all lynching just the same


Art and poem by Kevin ”Rashid” Johnson


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